Professor David Engerman: ‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’
On October 17-19, 2013 the international conference ‘Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the “Iron Curtain”’ organized by the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities is being held in Moscow.
This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. The HSE news service talked to two participants about the conference about their expectations and suggestions for reading.
David Engerman, Professor of History at Brandeis University (USA) is delivering a paper ‘A Mecca for Economists and Planners’: Pilgrimages to Nehruvian India at the second plenary session. He told the news service about a new western approach to understanding soviet life during the Cold War.
David Engerman :
— It's fascinating to understand how much our predecessors knew about their own time - we like to think of ourselves as superior, yet earlier social scientists had a keener understanding of their societies than we often think. This is especially true of our views of Soviet scholars. Westerners at the time - and many since - view Soviet scholars as bland parrots of party lines. But for as much outside pressures as they faced, soviet scholars were effective expressing complex ideas using the limited ideological language available to them in publications.
I think it's important for youth today to move past pure blame and discrediting of the Cold War. Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War, which emerged not just from the differences between the US and the USSR but also from some of their commonalities.’
Irina Morozova, from Humboldt University of Berlin who will speak in the Cold War historiographies section about ‘Central Asian intertwine of nationality, religion and democracy in the ‘hall of mirrors’ of Western and Soviet historiographies (1950-1980)’ says that the thing that fascinates her most in this area is the ‘comparative history of decolonisation in Asia and the Orient and the impact of global geopolitics on the deconstruction of socialism’. She recommended the following books for anyone interested in the topic of her talk;
P. van de Veer, Imperial Encounters. Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton and Oxford 2001).
M. Werner, B. Zimmermann, ‘Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisee and the Challenge of Reflexivity’, History and Theory 45 (2006) 30-50
D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton 1996)
This is the first time Irina has taken part in an HSE conference and she hopes to develop other forms of cooperation with colleagues in the field.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
The collective volume Place and Nature: Essays in Russian Environmental History, co-edited by David Moon, Nicholas B. Breyfogle, and HSE researcher Alexandra Bekasova, was recently presented at a seminar of the Laboratory for the Environmental and Technological History of the Centre for Historical Research at HSE – St. Petersburg. The book is one of the fruits of a networking project carried out in 2013-2016 with active participation of HSE researchers.
On March 28-31, 2021, the HSE International Laboratory ‘Russia’s Regions in Historical Perspective’ held an international conference ‘The Russian Far East: Regional and Transnational Perspectives (19th -21st cent.)’. The event was jointly organized by the Laboratory with the German Historical Institute Moscow, Indiana University Bloomington (USA), and the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East FEB RAS (Vladivostok).
The recently launched Master's Programme in Medieval Studies is the only Master’s degree in Russia fully dedicated to medieval studies. HSE News Service spoke with Juan Sota, a second-year student of the programme, about its unique features, interacting with professors, and his research interests and aspirations.
On February 9, the HSE International Laboratory 'Russia’s Regions in Historical Perspective' hosted Janet Hartley (London School of Economics), who presented her recent monograph The Volga: A History of Russia’s Greatest River. The presentation was part of a joint lecture series between the Laboratory and The Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation. HSE news service spoke with Janet Hartley about her interest in Russia, her experience travelling and doing research in Russia, and the books she has written on Russia.
After June 1941, the Soviet budget was no longer the same. Marking the end of peaceful life, budget revenues dwindled, and the Treasury was drained of billions of rubles. But because the war required money, the government had to find it from somewhere. Oleg Khlevnyuk, Professor at the HSE University’s School of History, examines the Soviet Union’s wartime and post-war financial policies in his paper.
Russian women who associated with Soviet allies during World War II were subjected to unusually harsh persecution. This was especially true in the north of the country that saw the arrival of thousands of U.S. and British sailors. For having contact with these foreigners, Soviet women received the same severe punishment meted out to Nazi collaborators: charges of treason and 10 years in a forced labour camp. HSE Associate Professor Liudmila Novikova studied how and why this policy shaped their destinies.
Isabelle R. Kaplan, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, talks about her research on non-Slavic minorities in the Soviet Union in an interview to the HSE Look.
In 2001, ten years after the launch of reforms in Russia, 54% of Russians believed the main achievement of the reforms was the availability of consumer goods, rather than freedom of speech or the possibility of travelling abroad. A decade later, public attitudes had not changed, and the availability of goods on store shelves was still perceived as the number one priority. The massive trauma caused by scarcity was particularly strong. How it was addressed and in what way it influenced public attitudes after the USSR collapse is examined in a study by HSE professor Oleg Khlevnyuk.
Nikolai Pavlenko, a shadow entrepreneur and creator of a successful business in Stalin’s USSR, was executed by firing squad in 1955. Running a successful commercial enterprise right under the dictator’s nose in a strictly planned economy was a striking but not so uncommon case in the Soviet Union at the time, according to HSE professor Oleg Khlevniuk who made a number of unexpected findings having studied newly accessible archival documents. Below, IQ.HSE offers a summary of what his study reveals.
Mental health disorders are among the leading worldwide causes of disease and long-term disability. This issue has a long and painful history of gradual de-stigmatization of patients, coinciding with humanization of therapeutic approaches. What are the current trends in Russia regarding this issue and in what ways is it similar to and different from Western countries? IQ.HSE provides an overview of this problem based on research carried out by Svetlana Kolpakova.